I know exactly what you’re thinking. You read the title of this article, smirked, and then thought, “Alright, Copeland. Let’s see how big of a fool you make of yourself and then I will EVISCERATE you!” And that’s completely fair. I mean, what right does a man have to address feminine modesty? It would seem very little in today’s world, but I’ve never been accused of being smart or a coward, so here we are.
The subject of female modesty gets a lot of play and thorough discussion these days—especially within the evangelical circles—because it is, at its roots, a subject beholden to opinions and interpretations and not facts…which usually leads to arguments, and we all know how much we Christians enjoy a good argument (ugh).
Modesty is a subject of moving lines and acceptable stances, depending on each woman’s view of the world and God’s Word. A woman decides what her own definition of modest appearance and behavior is and then she abides by the limitations she has set for herself. Sometimes a husband or Church will try to define and decide these restrictions for her, and if she accepts this authority in her life, that is her right as well. But a woman’s stance on modesty or appropriate appearance should come from a place of comfort and peace, not berating insults or oppressed views. After all, most women in the free world have the right to do, dress, and behave as they please—and that is the way it should always be.
A woman should be able to decide how she presents herself based on her own comfort level. If a woman is most comfortable with the majority of her body being covered, that’s her right (yes, some women get unfairly chastised for being too modest). If she’s more comfortable with the opposite, that is her choice as well.
And while it’s no secret that dressing certain ways will draw certain types of (sometimes unwanted) attention, is it really a woman’s responsibility to control another person’s reaction? Of course not. Now, some will maintain that a Christian woman is responsible for not trying to “tempt” her brothers in Christ, but as those brothers, shouldn’t we men have better control over our thoughts and imaginations so that we don’t actively lust after a woman simply based on their dress or appearance? Emphatically, yes! A woman can’t control the behavior or reactions of a man any more than Devon Sawa can control the lust of millions of women (girls still think he’s hot, right?). If a woman is comfortable in and of herself and comfortable with how she presents herself and the beliefs she holds, then a million super powers to her.
The truth is that some people will always try to exert their control over others. They will condemn them and they will try with all their might to force their own beliefs onto those who believe in different interpretations of God’s Word (my own religion is really bad about that and it shames me). This is wrong. A belief in God should be about trust; trusting in Him and trusting in others.
Modesty should never be about who is right or who is wrong. It should be about equality and respect. Equality for women to be able to dress however they’re most comfortable as they represent their beliefs and themselves, and respect for women to be able to make the same choices a man can without the fear of reprisal or condemnation.
(Quick side note: I do believe a woman should be conscious and respectful in the way she dresses when attending a place that may have a dress code of sorts. Places of worship, work, The White House, etc.)
So if a man is free to dress in whatever way makes him comfortable, there’s no reason a woman can’t do the same. The reactions might not be the same, but a woman should be allowed to define herself and her own views on modesty without having to deal with any sort of negative reaction. After all, the clothes (or lack thereof) do not make or break a woman; it’s what’s in her heart that matters. It’s her responsibility to decide on what her heart shows.
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